London Welsh 20 Llanelli RFC 10
The step up from the Principality Premiership to the British and Irish Cup has been evident over the five pool games and some big lessons have been learnt from this exciting tournament.
After a sub-stardard opening against Aberavon back in November, Llanelli finished their inaugural B & I Cup campaign with another defeat at Old Deer Park, however, the difference in standard and attitude of the Llanelli team since November has seen a huge improvement
Llanelli were hit with an injury blow in the warm up, as last week's man of the match Chris Keenan pulled out with a harmstring problem which meant Nic Reynolds came off the bench to start.
And for the first 20 minutes both sides were opening up the game at every opportunity and Llanelli were pleased to be leading 10-3 with a good try from full back Dale Ford converted expertly by Steve Shingler who also kicked a penalty, as did Aled Thomas for the 'Welsh'.
From that point on the home coaches realised they would need to tighten up their tactical approach( which they did too great effect) as they used the driving maul and pick and go tactics to the extent Llanelli's determined defence gave way in the terms of losing two players into the 'sin bin in the 35th(Adam Powell) and 38th minute (Craig Hawkins)which resulted in tries from Eerie Classens and Rob Lewis, with Aled Thomas landing an excellent touchline conversion for a 15 -10 half time lead.
Playing with wind at their backs against the depleted Llanelli team, London Welsh's Simon Whatling ran in their third try within nine miutes of the re- start and the fourth try for a bonus point looked a formality.However such is the spirit of the Llanelli squad they were not going to throw the towel in and that attitude was perhaps highlighted by 17 year old replacement Jack Roberts who along with the rest of the troops defended as if their lives depended on it.
When SRU referee James Matthews blew the whisle for 'no side', London Welsh deservedly got the points but this spirited Llanelli performance will be of great benefit as they enter the 'business end' of the season which starts on Wednesday against Glamorgan Wanderers at Parc Y Scarlets. k.off 7:30pm.
15.Dale Ford14..Dorian Thomas13.Steve Martin.12 Nic Reynolds11.Jason Howells10.Steve Shingler 9.Gareth Davies 8.Steffan Phillips 7.Duane Eager6.Aaron Shingler 5.Nathan White.4.Adam Powell 3.Ceri Jones2.Craig Hawkins(c) 1.Shaun Hopkins
Replacements/subs16.Trystan Davies (70)17.Rhys Lawrence(38,60)18.Ben Morgan(60)19.Luke Lewis(70)20.Justin James.22.Jack Roberts(48)